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House price rises stall in March, says QV

Nationwide property values eased slightly in March but are still up 0.5% over the past three months and 3% up over the past year, according to the latest QV report.

"The marginal drop in values last month follows a year of slight month on month increases," said QV research director Jonno Ingerson.

"These increases were driven initially by Auckland and Canterbury but the rest of the main centres have also been increasing over the past few months. It is too early to say if the drop in the latest month represents a change in direction for the market."

Despite the slight fall in values Ingerson said sales activity remained strong in March, returning to the highest levels since 2009.

"Activity levels have been bolstered by first home buyers having enough confidence to enter the market, while some existing home owners are now ready to make a move they may have been delaying for several years.

"The level of sales activity is still being constrained by a lack of supply in some areas, particularly Auckland, Christchurch and parts of Wellington."

Ingerson said the market remained variable across the country, responding to local economic influences.

He said most of the main centres have been more or less stable, and the rural centres have generally been increasing over the past year.

In the wider Auckland area QV reported values are up 0.8% over the past quarter and 5% up over the past year. Auckland has seen the largest annual increase of any of the main centres leaving values 2.2% above the previous market peak.

Over March values have either steadied or dropped slightly in Rodney, North Shore, old Auckland City and Manukau.

The old Auckland City remains the fastest growing part of the Auckland area, up 6.9% over the year and now 4.8% above the 2007 market peak. The southern part of the old Auckland City within the area from Mt Eden to Waterview to Blockhouse Bay and Penrose has risen 8.8% over the past year to 6.1% above the previous peak.

QV valuer Glenda Whitehead said there was strong demand for quality properties in good school zones and near the city centre and that a shortage of supply was putting upward pressure on prices.

Across the rest of Auckland values are up 4.4% over the past year in Papakura, 4.2% in Waitakere, 3.8% in North Shore and 3.1% Manukau. All of these areas have risen more in the past year than any other main centre apart from Christchurch, which has risen 4.1%.

In the capital over the past year values first dropped for six months before rising for the next six months to currently sit at 0.1% above the same time last year. Values are currently 5.9% below the previous peak.

"Activity in the marketplace is anything but static at the moment," said QV valuer Kerry Buckeridge.

"Real estate agents continue to report being very busy since the beginning of the year as people returned from holiday with a ‘let's get on with it' attitude.

"However, despite a flurry of listings early in the year there are now emerging signs of a stock shortage in some areas. There remain good levels of activity in the first home buyer market, while higher end properties with the ‘X factor' have been achieving multiple offers at tender."

In Christchurch values have climbed 1.1% over the past three months and 4.1% over the past year to sit 0.2% above the 2007 peak.

Areas neighbouring the city are increasing in value faster than anywhere else in the country, with Waimakariri District up 13.3% over the past year and Selwyn District up 10.4%. Both areas are also the furthest above the previous market peak, up 7.9% and 6.8% respectively.

"Demand in towns surrounding Christchurch continues to be high, especially as more contractors and their families start moving into the area to help with the rebuild," said QV valuer Richard Kolff.

Kolff also said feedback from estate agents suggested many people were only selling because they had to, resulting in a low level of listings which was pushing prices up.

In Hamilton values have been steady for the past five month, but prior increases mean values are currently 1.2% up on last year though they remain 11% below the previous market peak.

"Anecdotal evidence indicates there has been renewed interest in residential property in Hamilton over the last couple of months," said QV valuer Richard Allen.

"Homes in the middle to upper end of the market appear to be selling best with less demand for homes in the bottom end of the market."

In Tauranga values have been relatively stable over the past six months and are now 1.3% above the same time last year, though 11.1% below the 2007 peak.

"There are some signs appearing in the Tauranga market that a trickle down affect is occurring from the growing Auckland market," said QV valuer Shayne Donovan-Grammer.

"Some buyers are starting to perceive they are getting more relative value in comparison. At this stage the market remains generally steady."

Dunedin values had, until a couple of months ago, been amongst the fastest increasing in the country. However values have dropped slightly in the last two months, but remain 0.2% up on the last three months and 2.6% up on last year.

"Sales in the lower end of the market are occurring quite quickly with multiple offers evident," sad QV valuer Tim Gibson.

"This is in contrast to the higher end properties where buyers are remaining hesitant."

Among the provincial centres values have increased between 1% and 2% in Rotorua, Palmerston North and Invercargill. Gisborne has dropped 1% with the other main provincial centres more or less stable.

Over the past year Whangarei has increased 3.1%, Nelson 1.8% and Palmerston North 1.1%. Wanganui is down 4.3% over the year, Gisborne down 2%, Napier down 1.7%, Hastings down 1.3% and Queenstown Lakes down 1.1%.

Values in Rotorua, New Plymouth and Invercargill are within 1% of last year.


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